Friday, June 05, 2009

Regulation in the Global Economy

When I worked at Honeywell Industrial Control, we made products that were sold around the world. Many of the products required various safety certifications in order to comply local regulations. Often, we could ship the product in the US, but had to wait on paperwork in order to ship to Europe.

Looks like BMW is running into the same problem with their new electric mini.

The automaker has hit a glitch in distribution of high-voltage charging cables. As a result, up to 300 of the 450 customers who have taken a one-year lease on the Mini E may only be able recharge them with a standard household 110-volt wall-socket cord. That means the cars will be required to stay plugged in for 23 hours to get a full charge...

The problem isn't a shortage of high-voltage cables, but rather the red-tape that goes with the program. The cables are certified as safe by a European safety agency, but their certification by Underwriters Laboratories for the U.S. is pending. Some of the city or county safety inspectors who have to sign off on the charging unit installations in customers' homes may insist on UL approval...

Regulation compliance is costly. Complying with multiple regulatory bodies in multiple regions is even more expensive. I doubt that anything is really any safer just because it has passed both US and European certifications.

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